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In my introduction I said I'd share my experience of trying to get out of Cornwall in a C-Zero.
First my considerations: my car manages around 72 miles on full charge with careful driving; under normal driving conditions I rely on around 64 miles. On top of these distances I still probably have about another 4 miles in reserve before the battery depletes.

So, having not ventured beyond a 35 mile range, I decided to look into the possibility of driving to Manchester to visit family. I started researching and was under the impression, from certain comments on this site, that the Vospers Rapid Charger at Plymouth would be available to use. So, I decided to have a trial run to see if I could get to Exeter (from there I would be able to access the Ecotricity chargers -I hope). I phoned Vospers the day before my drive and was told be a Salesman that I could use the charger).

The next day I set off with my wife and made it to Vospers where I pulled up in the RC bay in front of the Nissan showroom. Almost as soon as I stopped my car, the Sales Manager came bounding out knocking on my window and telling me I couldn't use the charger as it was for Nissan drivers only. I explained that I'd phoned ahead but he told me I'd been misinformed. He told me to try Waitrose.

Off we went to Waitrose with 12 miles range showing. On arriving at Waitrose I found the chargers needed a RFID card (I didn't possess any such cards) and if I could access the charger I could only charge using my home connector (3 pin plug) which would take me 4 or 5 hours for the charge I needed. There was a phone number on the unit which I called only to be put through to an answer machine.

What now! My last resort, I thought, was to phone the AA using the car's inbuilt recovery system and get towed home. The AA van arrived within 30 minutes and, when he understood my predicament, began making phone calls. 15 mins later he came back and told me there was a charger Pentillie Castle I could use for a fee. The location was within my remaining range so off I set with the AA van on my tail just in case!

I can't sing their praises enough - the reception we were met with at Pentillie Castle was second to none. We were shown the charging facility and allowed to wait in a lounge room with TV and a pot of tea whilst our car charged. As I wanted to get back home as quickly as possible I decided to arrange to go via C&C Taxis in St Austell as I had read on this site that they also had a RC available for public use. I spent my time at Pentillie communicating C&C by twitter (it was suggested somewhere that this was their preferred method). Having established C&C would be available, I left Pentillie with enough charge to get me to St Austell. C&C asked me to phone them about 30 mins before my arrival, this I did and it was at this point I was asked if I understood there would be a fee. I hadn't been aware of this and it was not mentioned all the time I had been tweeting. I was prepared to pay a nominal fee for what would probably amount to £1 of electric. Their fee......... £8!!

By now you can imagine my frustration.

I decided I'd head for home and, if need be, I'd call on the AA again.

I did get home, running on fumes as the expression used to go.

I've not given up on my attempt to get out of Cornwall so I'll update you after my next adventure.

Happy motoring.
 

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Sorry to hear of your abortive attempt to get out of Cornwall.

Two points here that REALLY disappoint me...

Firstly Vospers attitude to you is very short-sighted and unfriendly. @Mark is one of their management and I hope he reads this and takes the principle of allowing all EVs to charge on board.

Secondly, I have always seen C&C taxis as pro-EV and not at all short-sighted by allowing public access to their rapid charger but charging such a price is downright unfriendly and IMO not at all supportive of EV owners. Charging £8 for what at tops is £3-4 of electricity is not at all supportive. They have now lost my support for their business... OK that probably doesn't mean much given that I live 30 miles away and will probably never use them... but I have been supportive on-line... I am not any longer.

Is this the way that EV charging is going... there is little profit to be made right now given the limited number of cars and little to be lost too given the small cost to charge. This whole story leaves me with a general dislike of the attitude of two companies and a growing bad taste in my mouth over EV charging.
 

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I'm disappointed too - I'm not likely to attempt this having read your account. Happy you managed to make it back OK.
 

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In the US there is some traction among EV owners to share their home charging stations with fellow EV enthusiasts. There are some databases/maps that allow home users to "share" their location and contact information such that drivers could call upon them in a pinch such as @Licker experienced. Sharing builds a sense of community. Given that my home electric costs are US$0.065 per kWh it costs very little to help others out... and I'll meet some interesting people as well. It's too bad that businesses don't see this synergy as a boon to their own business... even if they're driving a "competitor's" car or not going to spend a lot of money at that time in their hotel/restaurant/etc.
 

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There is a movement here to share home charging stations too but I would never wish to share my home charging with strangers and I know that many others, probably the majority, feel the same. I would never ask a stranger to charge either.

Neither should we need to. If we are needing to charge at strangers houses then something is radically inadequate with the charging network or we are trying to do too much with our cars. It also sends out the totally wrong message. I personally do not support or encourage the sharing of home locations to strangers.
 

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This experience has one good point is the excellent service at Pentille Castle, which I would suggest is more typical of what EV drivers can expect. The attitude is Vospers and C&C is quite unacceptable and incidents like this are very damaging to EV adoption. I would however point out that this situation is far from general. As a Mitsu owner, I am regularly in Nissan and less often in Renault garages. I have never been refused a charge - though Fish Bros (Swindon) asked me not to come back and Evans-Hashaw in Edinburgh were so obnoxious last week that I walked out.
There needs to be a follow up here with Nissan UK, Vospers and C&C and I can see PIB are 'on the case'. The risk, of course, is that intervention does more damage than good?
I understand that there is a similar situation happening at Motorline Nissan, Tunbridge Wells - whom I praised fully in my 'Travelling to France Blog' - one year ago. Back then the Dealer Principal had established the charger as 24/7 and RFID free! What concerns me is that as more EVs come on the road and these chargers get accessed by non-customers (including own brand) garages have become cynical - that usage doesn't correlate to new business?
The change of attitude could also be attributable to the attitudes of EV drivers, who have 'helped themselves' to a charge, without normal courtesies?
There is a 'protocol' that is worth following:
- Always ask permission;
- always tour the showroom and show interest in ANY car;
- Use the lounge, but don't take coffee, unless invited to;
- Always check out with a big thank you.
The 'big issue' here is the 'awareness and education' - and just how the case for inter-operability is made and to whom. There is probably a systemic failure in how dealership are made aware of the 'threats and opportunities' from inter-operability?
Cornwall drivers may need to look at ways to 'snack' on fast chargers to get onto the Electric Highway. Alternatively make a plea to Ecotricity for a 'life-line'!
 
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I concur with the big thank you. I make a point of tweeting a big "Thank You" to the dealership who are allowing me to charge.

I am at @greenhous today and have tweeted. They've retweeted and replied so must see some value in it.

From the perspective of dealers turning folks away - I am saddened but not surprised.
 

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There needs to be a follow up here with Nissan UK, Vospers and C&C and I can see PIB are 'on the case'.
Plug in Britain is most certainly NOT ON THE CASE. Brian, as you frequently do, you mix up personal comment and the comment of an organisation. I was most certainly not representing PiB or anyone else when I commented on twitter. I would thank you not to make comments about Plug in Britain that are not true.

There is a 'protocol' that is worth following:
Who's "protocol" is this Brian... I suspect it is nothing more than your personal protocol in which case why not say so.
 

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Part of me was hoping to get into Cornwall in the LEAF for holidays this summer.

Not a smart move?!
Fine. I live here (Saltash) and have no issue getting out because it is just 48 miles from my house to Exeter where there is the Nissan dealer and a Highway rapid at J30.

It is going the other way, further west, that you will run into difficulty because there are no rapids. The private one at C&C taxis looks like £8 a pop and I get the feeling that they really don't want people using it regularly (just my impression) so you would be relying on destination charging and a few POLAR and ZeroNet fast charge locations.

It isn't a good picture for us down here at the moment. I am expecting it to improve massively this year as many of the rapids are installed from the latest round of funding although how many of those I can use is unknown because I am not a member of POLAR.

Capture.PNG
 

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There are supposed to be 2 more rapids in Cornwall - at Hawkins Motors near Hayle, and at their place in St. Stephen (near St. Austell). I have been unable to try them out as yet, but they sent me a letter saying they had been put in (Hawkins is where I bought my iON from). For me the Hayle one is of most interest, as it wold enable me to make it all the way west and back. My charger of choice is the Eden Project one - as residents of Cornwall we get a very cheap deal on annual passes, so are fairly frequent visitors. I think it's a 16A charger, though it could be 32A.
 

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Hello… First posting here - only just yesterday heard of this forum despite being an EVer for the last 5 years; DIY converted van, Vectrix, Ion and building an electric replica of an Austin Healey.

I'd like to throw in some support for C&C Taxis based on what I have read here and having spoken to them recently on the phone. Perhaps some people might imagine the cost of installing a private RC is trivial. It isn't ~ £10 to £20k+ depending on the proximity of 3P power. C&C are under absolutely no obligation to provide anyone other than their Leaf taxis with a charge - that they do so at all is of considerable benefit to all EVers in the area and, indeed, potential EV-driving tourists - like me. What they charge to let people use their RC is up to them and I, for one, would always ask what fee would be charged well before making any plans to use it let alone only asking on arrival!

They are a small business, not a world-wide empire like Nissan, and it is quite feasible that an 80% charge on a RC could cost them at £4-5 depending on the vehicle. An extra few pounds seems quite reasonable given the overall situation and especially considering the current scarcity of RCs in the area and in Cornwall generally.

This is a 2-way thing; yes we EVers want to be able to use our vehicles but equally we want to encourage businesses to install RCs - the only really useful type in my view - and let us all use them. All these street side chargers are all well and good but who the Dickens is going to stand around for 3 or 4 hours waiting for any sort of a decent charge? And, of course, as far as using them for a long trip is concerned they are utterly useless.

Perhaps forum readers would like to suggest what a reasonable charging fee should be and then RC owners can gauge things accordingly? For my money, anything up to the equivalent cost in petrol is fine but I'm used to a fairly low fuel economy of about 40 miles/gallon. On this basis £8 is probably a tad high but would people say twice the electricity cost was acceptable or 1.5 times? All RCs show how much juice they have used so it would be easy enough to calculate.

In closing, like with most things in life communication is the key to harmonious relationships!
MW
winlow.co.uk

PS - I notice neither of the Hawkins Motors sites are on the OpenChargeMap nor Zap-Map web sites. Do forum users use these sites or are their better ones? MW
 
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@martinwinlow welcome to the forum.

I agree with what your saying and yes they have no obligation to let the public use their charger.

I wonder if they had any help from Nissan with the cost of the rapid, as Nissan have benefited from Alot of PR from that taxi company.

Nevertheless, I wonder if it would be better if the taxi company was the one to start and finish the charge session. At the end of the session where it says power consumed why not charge the customer £0.40 per kWh?

At the end of the day their kind enough to let the public charge so in the infancy of this rapid charge network I would pay the fee and who knows in a year time we might not need to rely on them to get to the south west of Cornwall.
 

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Thank you and… Sounds fair enough to me…!

I'd like to see more business-to-business tie-ins re RCs - ecotricity, Nissan, Mitsu, the government… it just seems so win-win-win to me.

Incidentally, as I have relatives near Axminster I took my Ion on a trip via Bournemouth a few weeks back (already done the M4/M5 route) and this high-lighted the lack of RCs in Dorset. This led me on to finding out that they have won £750k funding for RCs from the ULEV fund and thence tracking down the man in charge of implementing the project. Can't say I was happy with the apparent lack of thought being put into siting the RCs in Dorset as convenience to the councils sounds more important than convenience (and relevance) to EVers. If readers of this in other counties who have won ULEV funding who have news of where their respective councils are at with progress on their RC installations would like to chime in here it would make interesting reading. If not, perhaps some of yo could make some local inquiries?

Regards, MW.
 

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Thx Martin for your comment.

I don't disagree at all however I was concerned over one point that has been overlooked in your comment.

The way I understand it, from the report, they were approached by someone wanting to charge and they said they could without even mentioning that they charged a fee. When the driver phoned in 30 mins out, when they were committed, they then spung on him that a fee was going to be charged. Then it was £8.

I totally agree with what you say... they are under no obligation to allow the public access but if they do then I for one believe that they should make it clear that they charge a fee when first approached. It is particularly unfriendly IMO to allow an EV driver to commit to the trip before they spring the fee on them.

As far as the fee amount... assuming a Leaf is almost totally empty and they charge to full it isn't going to be more than 22kWh. For it to cost them £4-5 they would need to be paying 18-22p/kWh. £8 makes a charge much more expensive than many petrol/diesel cars and I don't think we should be paying more than petrol/diesel. I will not pay any fee that high... just my choice.

I don't have a problem with them charging a fee but I just felt that the way they handled this particular driver, and combined with the high price that was sprung on him, I thought it wasn't very EV-friendly.
 

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Hi Paul,

18p/kWh is not a wildly unlikely price to be paying for electricity these days - on a peak tariff anyway. I don't think it is unreasonable for them to be charging extra for the convenience of providing the facility - I think the 40p/unit mark is not unreasonable even if it does bring it to a price comparable to (or indeed, exceeding) fossil fuels. Don't forget that for most EVers this is going to be a rare event, 98% of their charging being done at home.

At least this has been a learning experience for us all. I wonder if C&C have fully explored the best tariff for their particular situation?
 

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Thanks Martin. I shall try to keep an open mind on this issue. It is one that will crop up more and more as more private chargers get installed.

I have no problem them charging as I say but they should make it clear up front, when first approached.
 

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Discussion Starter #19 (Edited)
Did I imagine it? I thought Vospers' RC at Plymouth was on ZapMap. It seems to have vanished.
 
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